Recent economic developments. Supported by a large policy package, Serbia’s economy rebounded quickly from the initial COVID-19 shock, recording a 1 percent contraction of real GDP in 2020. Job losses have mostly been contained to the informal sector, thanks to policy measures aimed at preserving formal employment. A supplementary budget for 2021 was adopted in April boosting capital expenditure and extending policy support to households and corporates, against the background of third and fourth waves of infections and related containment measures, as well as a weaker-than-expected economic recovery in key trading partners. Inflation remains low. After rising again in late February, infections tapered, helped by new containment measures and the rapid vaccine rollout.
Recent economic developments. Economic activity recovered following a severe contraction in 2Q2020 caused by the pandemic. Real output in 2020 has been revised up and is now projected to contract by only 1.5 percent, on the back of positive highfrequency indicators. Inflation remains low. The banking system remains liquid. After the two waves in March and July, the number of new infections has accelerated again since mid-October, reaching record-high levels and a larger-than-expected deterioration presents a clear downside risk.
Recent economic developments. Notwithstanding a sizeable policy response, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant adverse impact on Serbia’s economic activity, with output in 2020 projected to contract by 3 percent, compared to a
4 percent increase expected prior to the COVID-19 shock. The shock is affecting the economy through lower external demand, weaker foreign direct investment and remittances, disruptions in regional and global supply chains, and domestic supply constraints. The government took strong actions to contain the pandemic at an early stage, but the number of infections accelerated again towards end-June. As a result, some containment measures have been re-introduced.
This paper discusses Republic of Kosovo’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the associated containment measures have severely weakened Kosovo’s economic outlook. The economy is expected to contract by 5 percent in 2020 as tourism receipts, remittances, exports of goods, and foreign direct investments will decrease due to travel restrictions and the effect of COVID-19 in trading partners and remittance-originating countries. The deteriorated economic outlook is expected to result in external and fiscal financing gaps. The RFI provides rapid and low-access financial assistance to member countries facing an urgent balance of payments need, without the need for a full-fledged economic program or reviews. It can provide support to meet a broad range of urgent needs, including those arising from commodity price shocks, natural disasters, conflict and post-conflict situations. Financial assistance under the RFI is provided in the form of outright purchases.
Daniel Gurara, Mr. Giovanni Melina, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
Over the past seven years, the DIG and DIGNAR models have complemented the IMF and World Bank debt sustainability framework (DSF) analysis, over 65 country applications. They have provided useful insights in the context of program and surveillance work, based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the macroeconomic effects of public investment scaling-ups. This paper takes stock of the model applications and extensions, and extract five common policy lessons from the universe of country cases. First, improving public investment efficiency and/or raising the rate of return of public projects raises growth and lowers the risks associated with debt sustainability. Second, prudent and gradual investment scaling-ups are preferable to aggressive front-loaded ones, in terms of private sector crowding-out effects, absorptive capacity constraints, and debt sustainability risks. Third, domestic revenue mobilization helps create fiscal space for investment scaling-ups, by effectively containing public debt surges and their later-on repayments. Fourth, aid smoothens fiscal adjustments associated with public investment increases and may lower the risks of unsustainable debt. Fifth, external savings mitigate Dutch disease macroeconomic effects and serve as fiscal buffers. The paper also discusses how these models were used to estimate the quantitative macro economic effects associated with these lessons.
The near-term outlook is broadly positive, with robust growth and low inflation. However, growth potential remains constrained by weak external competitiveness, high informality, low labor force participation, and a large infrastructure gap. In a complex political environment, the structural reform progress has been slow and fiscal risks have increased.
Serbia succeeded in addressing macroeconomic imbalances and restoring confidence and growth under the precautionary SBA which expired in February 2018. Fiscal sustainability has been restored by placing public debt on a firm downward path and the external position has been realigned with fundamentals. Monetary policy has kept inflation under firm control, while supporting economic recovery. The resilience of the financial sector has improved. Progress has also been made on structural and institutional reforms, including in rationalizing the size of public sector employment, addressing fiscal risks from SOEs, and improving the business environment. However, challenges remain for achieving robust, inclusive, and sustainable growth, which Serbia needs for faster income convergence with its EU peers. The authorities requested a 30-month Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) to provide a framework for continued macroeconomic stability and reforms, and maintain close policy dialogue with staff.
This paper discusses Serbia’s Eighth Review Under the Stand-By Arrangement. Notwithstanding some temporary supply shocks, economic activity remains robust, supported by recovery of private consumption and strong foreign direct investment. Significant fiscal over-performance has continued and efforts to address structural weaknesses have been accelerated. This, along with a healthy credit recovery on the back of substantial monetary policy easing, has helped support growth, while low inflation has reinforced recovery in real incomes. Continuing broader structural reforms are needed to improve the business climate and support Serbia’s medium-term growth.